Comparing American and African elections

The heavy, wall-to-wall focus on the United States (US) elections every four years often has the consequence of muted attention by global populaces towards elections in other parts of the world. Save for a coterie of political scientists, journalists, international civil scientists and Africanists, the level of interest in African elections in 2020 remained comparatively low key. There is room to argue that American elections blank out concomitant elections on the continent. This phenomenon is attested by African media coverage of the 2020 US electoral campaigns vis-à-vis electioneering in the 12 or so African countries that hosted presidential or general elections last year. In this analysis, I focus on elections in three African countries – GuineaTanzania and Côte d’Ivoire – in comparison to the US’.

It is probably valid to argue that the popularity of the US elections is a function of its role as a superpower, one that analysts around the world watch with rapt attention. On the other hand, most African countries attract comparatively lower attention because they are peripheral backwaters that are ostensibly insignificant on the global stage.